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What is Participative Leadership?

Participative leadership involves seeking out input from all members of a team.
Employees working together, a key aspect to the business concept of participative leadership.
One downside of participative leadership is that it may require more time before decisions can be made.
Participative leadership often includes brainstorming sessions.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2014
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Participative leadership is a style of leadership that involves all members of a team in identifying essential goals and developing procedures or strategies to reach those goals. From this perspective, this leadership style can be seen as a leadership style that relies heavily on the leader functioning as a facilitator rather than simply issuing orders or making assignments. This type of involved leadership style can be utilized in business settings, volunteer organizations and even in the function of the home.

One of the main benefits of participative leadership is that the process allows for the development of additional leaders who can serve the organization at a later date. Because leaders who favor this style encourage active involvement on the part of everyone on the team, people often are able to express their creativity and demonstrate abilities and talents that would not be made apparent otherwise. The discovery of these hidden assets help to benefit the work of the current team, but also alerts the organization to people within the team who should be provided with opportunities to further develop some skill or ability for future use.

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Participative leadership also expands the range of possibilities for the team. When leadership styles that essentially leave all the direction and decision making in the hands of one individual, it is much more difficult to see a given approach from several different angles. When the leadership style encourages others to be involved in the decision making process, a given course of action can be approached from a variety of perceptions. This can often point out strengths or weaknesses to the approach that would have gone unobserved and thus unresolved without this type of participatory brainstorming and decision making.

One potential disadvantage of participate leadership is the time factor. This leadership style does often involve the need for more time before action is taken. This is only natural, since the very nature of this leadership style means allowing input from every member of the team. However, the extra time necessary for this process often leads to decisions that ultimately benefit everyone to a greater degree than faster decisions that are more limited in scope.

Effective participative leadership allows the talents and skills of all the team members to be utilized in arriving at decisions and taking courses of action. While the team leader is usually still responsible for making the final decision, this sharing of functions within the team provide the perfect environment for everyone to provide input that has the potential to make that final decision more well rounded and ultimately profitable for the company as a whole.

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anon354636
Post 6

Participative Leadership is a style, which is or can be utilised by the leader. The leader, who considers the involvement of people beneficial to the business needs, is likely to understand that, under emergency circumstances, the decision process must occur in a much shorter time.

It is an inclusive, not exclusive style of leadership. Its prevalence in other styles of leadership is consistent with the fact that, by definition, an "emergency" is an extraordinary and not an ordinary state of the business.

Therefore, I believe it to be the preferred style of leadership, particularly in complex organisations. --Davide C.

FitzMaurice
Post 3

Geert Hofstede is a sociologist who has come up with many helpful scales of measuring cultures. One of these is called power distance, and relates to how closely the leaders in a given culture are expected to listen to the suggestions of the people they lead. Speaking generally, it seems that cultures with lower power distance tend to be more democratic and have a greater diversity of ideas because of empowerment and the emphasis placed on individual innovation.

Proxy414
Post 2

I have participated in this form of decision making and am unsure if it is the most beneficial to a group in every type of context. For example, in an emergency situation, isn't it appropriate for one person to take absolute command (e.g., a medical technician or qualified law enforcement officer) and make all the decisions? I think that there may also be other situations where putting the decision making in the hand of a learned and qualified person would be most beneficial to the group.

cmsmith10
Post 1

There are several reasons why participative leadership is the way to go. One reason is that people are more committed to actions in which they are involved in the relevant decision making. Another is that several people working together make better decisions through collaboration than one person would alone.

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